Saturday, February 16, 2013

Excuses are like armpits,

Everyone has one and they all stink.

It seems like I always have a reason why I haven't written in so long, but most of the time when I look back I feel like I could have fit in an entry or two. However these past few months have been crazy. Even while I wrote those last two sentences my dogs needed to go outside, my daughter was super fussy and I needed to eat dinner. Now, dogs are in bed, baby is asleep and hubby is asleep. What better time to get all caught up. Maybe. We'll see......

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Overwhelming Process of Moving.

It's that time again. Moving time. While I understand that this is a process that I will probably become a pro at by the end of my husband's military career, right now it's a daunting task that I'm not looking forward to. Perhaps it's because I'm a full time student and 7 months pregnant.  Or perhaps it's because we're moving to South Korea and I have no clue what we can/should bring and what we should leave behind.

In any case I am finding this task a bit overwhelming. When we moved to Fort Rucker, we only had 4 days to pack up our house and move. This was mainly because we had already scheduled and paid for a vacation not realizing the Army would require my husband to report so soon after he commissioned.  Now the Army would have moved us, but we had heard that you can make a good amount of money doing a DITY (Do-It-Yourself) move and we wanted to make some money. And we did. It was a stressful time, but thanks to a lot people who helped us out, we made it through and we were so grateful that we did it. 

However, this time around a DITY move isn't going to work for us for several reasons. One of the biggest is the whole moving to another country thing. The next is that by the time we move, I will be VERY pregnant. So that puts me back to where I was when I started this post. Overwhelmed. 

Here is what I need to accomplish in the next couple months. Organize our house so I know what we actually own and what we will actually want to take with us to Korea. Unlike our last move when weight equaled money, this time around we are only allotted half of the maximum weight my husband's rank is allowed to move. One half.  Not to mention almost all Korean housing is fully furnished, so we really don't need to bring much with us. It would be so much easier if I could have them pack up our whole house and move it, but  we have to figure out what is going to go into storage, what we're going to take with us and what we're going to give away, sell and throw out. 

Also, this task might not be as overwhelming if the hubs and I were naturally neat freaks and our house was already nicely organized into bins and labeled. Nope! Our spare bedroom could probably make it onto the show "Hoarders".  As well as I've been the same size since I was in 7th grade and have so many articles of clothing it's embarrassing. (Also now I have maternity clothes and clothes people have given me for little baby G).  Add on to that the fact that we got married older, so when we combined lives...we had a lot to combine. We've only been married two years, so we still have a lot of "his stuff"/"her stuff" that makes it hard to organize. My husband and I need a good week where we both have nothing to do, but instead he's putting in 12 hour days and I feel the need to sleep 12 hours a day, and the remaining 12 I'm trying to finish all of my school work early since we will be moving before the semester ends and my teachers are being nice enough to work with me so that I can finally graduate by the end of the semester. 

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I'll have a baby.

 Funny how that is literally the least of my concerns. I figure this little girl is gonna come no matter if my school work gets finished, or hubs graduates flight school, the dishes get done or boxes get organized, so I'm leaving the "having the baby" part alone. 

Sooooo, how to get started. My sweet best friend of a cousin finally convinced me to join Pinterest. She said it was a good way to look up stuff for the baby. And she was right. Now I feel like I'm not neglecting this little girl, she has her own board on Pinterest. After I artistically decorated her room, organized her belongings, and made notes of all the stuff I feel the need to buy now, I turned my attention back to the elephant in the room. Moving and organizing. I found a pin--which lead me to a blog--that had a list entitled "40 bags in 40 days".  I didn't read the whole blog, but I liked the idea. 

Here is Lucy's list.

I'll be making my own as I adapt her list to my house and my needs, but I figure I have about 40 days to get my house in order. But I like the idea of just doing one thing a day. I can handle that with all my homework, pregnancy exhaustion and pinterest obsession. ;) Moving, I think we just found a way to get along. 

Please feel free to post a comment on what works for you and moving! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

History and Observance of Memorial Day

Like many of you, I grew up not really understanding the true meaning of Memorial Day. I wouldn't fault my parents, more society and what the holiday has come to mean to the average American. With many Veterans in my extended and immediate family, we were taught to respect the military--even before I married an active duty soldier. I, personally, have always gotten very emotional at the thought of someone losing his or her loved one in defense of our nation.  This being said, I can honestly say that I had no clue that Memorial Day was strictly reserved for honoring those who had fallen in the line of duty. I thought it was a day to honor all those who had passed from this life.  Even with that misconception, I am embarrassed to say that Memorial Day usually meant a day for a BBQ, as BBQ's are a pretty big deal in my family,  we know how to BBQ pretty darn well.

Things tend to take on a different meaning when they become more personal. My first step towards a more respectful Memorial Day came when I got to visit ground zero, not even a year after the twin tours had fallen. The love and support sent to those who had lost their lives is unspeakable. As we walked through the wreckage and platforms that had been built and looked over the big empty hole that was so out of place, not one person spoke a word. As strangers, we would meet eyes and exchange a look of complete remorse. There was not one dry eye as we walked away with a new sense of feeling of what it really means to be American. I lived in New York a few years later, and those who had experienced the reality of 9/11 have not forgotten.

Ground Zero

Another step came when I had the opportunity to visit the Normandy Beaches in Northern France when I lived there. The videos and memorials made me sob like a baby. The courage and valor of the men from WWII astound me. The families they left behind were just as strong. Visiting those graves was extremely humbling.  The respect the French people had for these Americans who fought for their freedom made me start to wonder if perhaps America could learn a thing or two about honor and respect.
Normandy Beaches Cemetery

My last step was when I met my husband's family for the first time. We had decided that we would visit his family over Memorial Day weekend for a few reasons. First, he had time off of school and I had time off of work, and second, his entire family gathered in remembrance of their father/husband/grandfather who had passed away over 10 years ago. I watched in reverent silence as we went to the grave site of his father. Each child paid their respects, the grandchildren were told stories and were taught to observe their grandfather's memory. Some tears were shed, but mainly laughter as memories were shared.  I watched as a tragic event pulled this family closer and closer each year. I came to truly understand the benefits of what really honoring someone who has died can be to the living.

This brings us to present day. I am sure your news feeds on Facebook, like mine, have been flooded with pictures and quotes of what Memorial Day is really about. It has made me stop and reflect on what the day means to me. Instead of just posting a quote, I wanted to really understand what it means to observe Memorial Day. I asked my husband if he knew the history of Memorial Day. He said he had recently read an article about a small little town who claimed to have started it all. That got me thinking and I did my own research, online, of course. I stumbled upon this website which some of you may have already found. The history is pretty detailed and seems to be pretty legit. The website talks about how many cities claim to have started this tradition. Other documentation states that women's groups can take the credit because they started the practice of decorating the graves of those who had fallen during the Civil War.  Memorial Day originally was May 5 but was then changed in 1868 to May 30, with New York being the first state to officially recognize it as a holiday in 1873.  By 1890 all of the northern states recognized it as a state holiday. The southern states still chose to honor their dead on another day. It wasn't until after World War I that Memorial Day was a time to remember all those who had died in the line of duty, not just those who had died in the civil war.
Civil War

Today almost all states recognize Memorial Day on the last Monday in May in compliance with the National Holiday Act of 1971 which ensures a three-day weekend for all federal Holidays. Some people believe that this is part of the disintegration of what has now become a holiday of "the start of summer".  To quote the VWF (Veterans of Foreign Wars), "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."  There are some who believe strongly the date the should be changed back to May 30, no matter what day it lands on.

After reading and researching so much about Memorial Day, I have now pledged to treat each Memorial Day with the proper observance that it deserves. I do not have a problem with get-togethers and BBQ's.  As I mentioned with my husband's family, I found that the very act of a family BBQ and visiting their loved one's grave was very moving and respectful. However, not everyone has someone specific to remember. In that case I suggest the following things, also taken from the same website.

  • Visiting cemeteries and placing flags/flowers or other respectful items by fallen soldiers graves.
  • Visiting Memorials ( I personally think Ground Zero would be very appropriate)
  • Flying the U.S. Flag half-staff until noon
  • Flying the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act)
  • Participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.
  • Renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our fallen dead and to aid the disabled veterans.
I would add a couple more by saying:

  • Correctly teach our children and family members what the holiday represents and how to properly observe it.
  • Another fun tradition might be doing some of the things they did in the past. At one point, according the same website, women used to wear red poppies in response to Moina Michael's poem:
    "We cherish too, the Poppy red
    That grows on fields where valor led,
    It seems to signal to the skies
    That blood of heroes never dies." 
  • Create a family tradition that you can reasonably continue each year. Even if it just is a family BBQ, while pausing at 3p.m. to think about those that have given the ultimate sacrifice.
  • Read stories of those who have lost someone. They can be very touching and uplifting, such as this one
  • But most importantly, BE AWARE, not just of your own situation, but those around you. You might find someone who is having to spend Memorial Day alone, and it may be one of the worst days of the year for them.
Whatever you may choose to do for your Memorial Day this year, I hope that you really consider the history and what it really means to observe it, whether you are connected to the military or not. We should all be grateful for those who have been brave enough to go before us and defend our country.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

when life becomes real......

I have been an Army wife officially for a few years now, but only active duty for a year. For the most part I haven't really felt any major impact. Life is just life and you deal with each day as you would--no matter what your husband did.  However over the past few weeks a few things have happened and my prospective started to change.

I read a blog post located here:
In this blog post she speaks about the sacrifices and situations that we, as military spouses, go through.  I must admit, most of the things she mentioned didn't even cross my mind. I never thought of all the sacrifices we give. That is, until recently.

Here is the thing, most of you know that my husband is here at Fort Rucker training to be a helicopter pilot. We have loved our time here so far and my hubby's reaction to flight school is usually " I get paid to fly cool is that?!"

Well the other day he had to do a precautionary landing in someone's backyard durning one of his training flights. While the story is pretty comical (I mean, imagine what your face would look like if you found a helicopter in your backyard) and a precautionary landing is so much different than having to do an emergency landing (it's really not dangerous or alarming at all), I suddenly became aware of the very realistic dangers of my husband's job. I'm not talking about being a pilot, but a solider. I realized that this will not be the last time when my husband has to do something unplanned and more than likely, much more dangerous. I am so grateful, just as I was that day, that he has the training and the knowledge to handle the situations that he might come across.

Another thing that has made me realize the sacrifices given by military families is that we recently found out that I am pregnant. This is our first child and we are very excited. Things haven't been easy, as I have been very very sick. I feel best when I'm lying down...but even then I don't feel great.  My husband has been there for me in every way he can, and I just feel so incredibly blessed to have such an attentive, sweet husband. However his schedule must always come first and some days I see him a total of a few hours.

That being said, I think I could deal with that. In fact I have been. I didn't really think about having to sacrifice until it was time for our first ultra-sound. Maybe to some of you, this wasn't a big deal. But to us, hearing our first baby's heartbeat for the first time was priceless. It is something you don't get a second chance of.  Because of my husband's training, he wasn't able to come to that appointment. Again, the Army came first.

I didn't realize that I felt so strongly about it until I was on my way to the hospital alone. When I mentioned my anxiety to a friend, she offered to go with me.  I was so grateful for her thoughtfulness.  Although I am so super excited to be pregnant,  it's all so new and a little overwhelming. Having my husband is what helps me get through it. When he wasn't there, I felt so alone--my family across the country. I am not looking for a pity party, I'm just understanding my situation under a new light. It was hard to be sitting in the waiting room of the doctor's office without him. While it was hard for me, it was even harder knowing it was difficult for my husband. It was just as difficult for him as it was for me. It was such a bittersweet moment looking at our baby for the first time without my husband. How is that fair?

This makes me think about the future. I knew when I signed up that there would be several tender moments that my husband might miss, but it never really settles until that moment hits you for the first time. Last year my husband almost missed our very first anniversary. He left for SERE training the next morning at 4:00am. We spent our anniversary making sure he was packed and had everything he needed.   This year I wonder what will happen around the birth of our first child. It's possible he'll be done with training, and under normal circumstances we'd be moving on to our next duty station. However, I'll be VERY pregnant--will I be able to travel? Will the Army make my sweet husband move on without me? Will he miss the birth of our sweet baby?

While most people attempt to calm my anxiety, I can't help but think that there are more births, Christmas', anniversaries missed than the Army makes exception for.  Even in my own family, my brother was deployed during the birth of his third child. I remember thinking " oh that must be so hard".

I had no idea.

Here it was in my OWN family, and I had no idea how to identify with my sister-in-law. I remember speaking to her not to long after I got married saying, " I am so sorry I wasn't there for you. I am so sorry I was not there to support you." I don't remember exactly what she said, but it was somewhat to the effect of she just got through it--because that's what you do.

Let me mention again, this is not a pity party. This is not a post to make people feel sorry for me or for other military spouses to say "I've been through worse". And I'm not looking for advice or comfort. I'm sure as heck not looking to hear the words I have come to despise...." Better get used to it", because I won't. I won't ever get used to my husband not being there at events, holidays, anniversaries and birthdays that I know he wants to be at even more desperately than I want him there.

No, this post was just a new reflection on life.  It was just some things that I hadn't realized before, even  if I knew there would be possibilities.

While absolutely nothing has changed in my every day life, I feel I have a new deeper understanding.  I have learned that when things are tough, that is when we learn to depend on each other...the military spouse. Why?

Because we understand. Because we've been there.

My friend who went with me to the hospital, her husband is deployed. She has every right to ask me for support and help--yet there she was offering to be there for me. Another friend of mine who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, with 3 small children just moved to Fort Rucker--her husband gone for a few months, asked for our help to move a couch. Although I was very sick, with my own pregnancy, and I barely get to see my husband as it is, we said "yes".  Another friend took time out of her life to babysit for another wife, so she could get some other things done because her husband was also gone.

If we can't depend on each other in our military life, who can we go to? While our family often wants to be there for us, they are often too far away or don't understand what we are going through.

Each woman in my examples above had every reason to say "no". What makes the Military family so unique is that we all said "yes".  While my new found realizations don't make life any easier, it is comforting to know that I have such amazing woman to lean on.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Post or Off Post?

When we first found out that we would be coming to Fort Rucker, we started looking at houses that were for sale and ones for rent.  After we realized that we weren't going to have a lot of time to look around the area, we decided to just take the on post housing that they had waiting for us ( we had contacted them in advance letting them know we were interested in living on post).

As it turns out, we got here 1 working day before the Hubs started BOLC. It made for a stressful time and we didn't see any choice but to take the house Picerne had chosen for us.

Now that we've been here 9 months, we've started to wonder if we might like to be homeowners. So we've started to look around at houses. We haven't started any kind of process. We haven't applied for a loan, we haven't looked at more than a few houses, but it's exciting to think that we could be buying a house.

There are so many opinions out there about whether buying a house is a good idea, whether you should rent or live on or off post. I've come to realize that it is such a personal decision. I believe that you should really think about it, do your research etc, but if you feel good about it, then you should go for it.

If we decide to buy a house, I'll be sure to post pictures and let you all know how the process goes!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Free trip to SeaWorld--Army style

It's been almost a year since my husband and I took a journey down south to take in the Florida sun.  It's intimidating committing to a vacation that makes it so easy to be taken advantage of.  Our main attraction stop was four days at Disney World, but since hubs had taken a full week of leave, we decided to make a pitstop at SeaWorld.  Here's the reason why. We got in for free!

Each year Here's to Heroes grants  free admission to all active duty service members of all branches and up to three direct dependents into SeaWorld, BushGardens or Sesame Place. (This is also true for all active duty Reserves and National Guard members) When we went, we simply had to wait in the normal admission line and show both our military ID's at the gate.  According to Here's to Heroes' website, it is now necessary to fill out the registration form online and bring the printed signed copy and your military ID to the gate.

Anywho, I wanted to tell you what we learned. I do a lot of research before we go on a trip. I research restaurants, parking, rides, iPhone apps, reviews, hotels, etc. I used to print out mini vacation novels for us to take on our trip, but in our age of technology I just need a list of addresses, email the rest to myself and download apps (usually only free ones). After all the research, there were still things that I didn't realize before we got there. For example that the SeaWorld in Orlando is soooo much more fun than the one in San Diego. ;) We went in July, so there were crazy amounts of people. Crowds don't bother us though, and after living in big major cities, we can navigate our way through crowds easily.

iPhone app: SeaWorld has it's own app, and it's fantastic. Plus it's FREE! You choose your location (Orlando, San Diego, San Antonio) and then it gives you the different options of the app itself. We used the parking feature (remembers where you parked--we used this feature at Disney World too, since it works off of GPS), the map, show times, restrooms, food, and the ride and wait times. It also had a button that brought you straight to your camera for those "always want to remember" moments.

Here is the Map Mode. If you tell them where you wanted to go, it would show a little path on how to get there

Hotels: Since we own a timeshare, we stayed at one of their hotels, but I also looked into the Disney Resorts and Shades of Green. (I'll post more on these in my Disney Post)

Travel and Parking: Getting to SeaWorld is fairly straight forward if you can follow road signs well. Parking is easy. It's a flat $14.00 for cars and motorcycles, $18.00 for recreational vehicles and $20.00 for preferred parking. Well, seeing as we don't mind walking, we just chose the plain ol' regular parking.

Tickets: I had been to the SeaWorld in San Diego several times, the most recent being the fall of 2008. Although I understand that was quite a few years ago now, at the time it seemed as if nothing had changed since the last time I had been there. Needless to say, I wasn't all that impressed. So, that being my experience, I convinced my husband that there was absolutely no hurry in getting to the park when it opened.

We got there at Noon.

The heat was terrible while waiting in line. I'm always cold, and normally the Alabama heat/humidity doesn't bother me, but this heat was bad. Hubby said " Now you know how I feel". I guess it served me right.  We were in line for about a half an hour. The line was very long, but it moved quickly. It was faster if you had cash. I'm assuming there are better times to get in line, but I'm not sure what that would be. Once we got to the ticket booth it was super simple. Have your ID's ready.

Food: SeaWorld did not let you bring anything inside with you. There were so many perfectly good sandwiches stuffed into the garbage cans outside the entry gate. I believe they did let you have water, which we had--although I wished we had the camel-bak Hubby brought to SERE school.

We choose to get the all day dinning plan. It was amazing.  It is $30 for one adult and it's ALL YOU CAN EAT! Now for my army man, that is music to his ears! lol. As often as you want, you can go into any of the participating restaurants and get a main entree, a side (or dessert), and a drink.  We took full advantage of this and even though we entered the park at around 1:00pm, we ate at about 3-4 places. It's great because we got a nice cold water bottle for "free" whenever we wanted. Those alone are about 3 bucks each. But before you decide I took a couple pictures of what we got.

Also, we would go back through the line and get a dessert if we really wanted one. They also have about 5 places you can choose to eat from and they all had a healthy option I think (the chili in the bottom in vegetarian).

Shows, Attractions and Rides: At the end of the day we were VERY impressed with SeaWorld. I am not a fish person, but I am an animal person. They have a great cat and dog show and a couple of really fun show-shows (not featuring animals hehe). The exhibits are fun too. The roller-coasters were amazing though. Kraken and Manta were by far our favorites EVER. We like big, fun, fast rides. We like the ones that go upside down or have fast turns etc. These two rides have them all. SO FUN. So much better than anything we rode at Disney World. 

In the end, we wished that we had arrived there earlier, because we would have liked to go to more shows and we wanted to ride the rides more, but we left feeling we got our money's worth ($14 for parking, $60 for food). 

Oh!!! and they actually have kennels and a little pet path where you can keep your pet while you are at the park. You can come out and walk them and put them back in the Kennel. I can't remember how much it is, but it was pretty cool. The guy working it was super nice and even though the pets were kenneled, they seemed to be very well treated. 

I, by no means, think this makes me an expert, but this was our experience and if it helps anyone else---GREAT! If anyone has anything to add, please leave it in the comments so we can all learn! Have fun and enjoy a perk of being part of the Army family. I'm sure we'll be going again this year. 

Just so busy.....

It's embarrassing that I haven't written anything for such a long time. I was hoping that if I started this blog over the summer that when I started school, I would already be in the habit and therefore continue to post while in school. That's just not what happened. Obviously.
What did happen was I jumped into school full time, got cast in the first musical production, and started driving to Troy, Al (45-60mins away--1 1/2--2 hours round trip) each day. I would leave my house at 07:00-07:30am each morning at get home around 11pm. Cured any boredom I might have, but for sure didn't help in keeping my blog updated.
When Christmas break came along we decided to get another dog. A little husky in fact. She's adorable, but consumed all of my free time durning my month off of school.
So here I am my first day of Spring Break and I am shocked that I actually have gotten the house tidied up (still some ways to go), but I just planned out our meals/menus for the week and now I have a few minutes before I need to take little Anya to the vet for the final round of her shots.  I am happy.
If all goes as planned this week, I will become a superwife! Not only is my homework all done, but I'll get ahead! I'll post about our trips to Disney-world (military style), Seaworld and New Orleans. Give you my lists of Do's and Don'ts.  Post about my experience the Fort Rucker Arts and Crafts center and post about why training your dog is so very important.